Editor’s note: This story was written by a staff member of The Independent, Clark College’s campus newspaper, as part of a collaboration with The Columbian called Voices From Clark College. It was published in The Independent.
After hanging up the phone with Clark head basketball coach Alex Kirk, Devon Hawkins boarded a plane to travel to Vancouver the next day. The 21-year-old forward said Kirk told him that Clark players make the starting five based on their attitude, effort and focus.
Not who their dad or brother are.
Devon Hawkins is the youngest son of retired professional basketball player Hersey Hawkins, who played in the NBA for 13 seasons. His older brother, Corey Hawkins, plays for the Idaho Stampede, the NBA development team for the Utah Jazz.
Devon said that Kirk and the Penguins are a good fit for him because they don’t expect him to be just like his father.
“These teammates aren’t the kind of guys who care who your dad is,” Devon said. “They think it’s cool, but they like what I can bring to the table.”
Devon played a key role in helping the Penguins (22-7, 12-4) grab the No. 1 seed in the South division entering the Northwest Athletic Conference playoffs. He has played in all 29 games, leads the team in rebounding and averages 7.8 points per game.
At Yuba College in Marysville, Calif., Devon said he felt pressured to be the offensive player that his dad had been at Bradley University, and to a lesser extent, in the NBA. Devon said he’s not as much of an offensive presence as his dad, choosing to pass the ball more often.
“Everywhere I’ve played, they’ve always known about my dad or (Corey) and they expect me to play at their level,” Devon said.
“The game is much different today than when I played,” Hersey said. “Today it’s set up for the offensive player.”
Devon agreed with his dad and said that most players at the community college level focus more on offense than defense in hopes of getting noticed by a Division I school.
Before the Portland Trail Blazers hired him as director of player development, Hersey was the varsity basketball assistant coach at Estrella Foothills High School in Goodyear, Ariz. All three of his sons played basketball for the school, with Devon and Corey winning a championship in 2009.
“I’ve never pressured them to play, and have always supported them on and off the court,” Hersey said. “As a parent you have to be a father first, and encourage them to find their niche.”
Devon’s friend and Clark teammate, Ty Cleland, who played with him at West Linn High School, introduced him to Kirk.
“I knew (Kirk) was looking for a rebounder and a hard defender,” Cleland said. “(Devon) is smart and knows how to win.”
Devon said he gets his high basketball IQ from his dad, and from being around the game growing up.
“He picked up the plays very quickly,” said teammate Kevin McDowell. “Most guys can’t do that. It takes a while.”
Devon said it took some time to adjust to his role on defense. After the team’s first game against Lane Community College, Kirk told him that if he wanted to play, he needed to be a better defender. It took a few games, but Devon said he buckled down and got better.
“As a coach, you wish more guys were cut in his cloth,” Kirk said. “He works on what you tell him to work on, and sets an example to the other guys on the team.”
Devon, a sophomore majoring in nutrition, said he won’t look at schools to transfer to until the end of the season.
“It’s not often that you have a good team capable of winning it all,” Hersey said. “When you are in those situations, you gotta come together as a team.”
NWAC Men’s Basketball Championship
Clark College (22-7, 12-4) vs. Yakima Valley (16-13, 9-5) in quarterfinals, 8 p.m. Friday.